Watching Practitioner Placement Trends Can Help Your Hospital

Emily Berry , February 25, 2010

Looking into crystal balls and performing balancing acts aren't just the work of circus performers. They're also great skills for medical staffs to exercise.

For example, being able to predict practitioner placement trends in your medical staff can help you budget for enough FTEs in your medical staff services department, update privileging forms before a new wave of specialists arrive, and prepare for a shift in medical staff culture.

The Delta Companies is one organization that can help your medical staff plan for the future. Delta is a practitioner placement group that publishes free, quarterly resources providing summaries of physician and healthcare specialist compensation, placement data, and market trends in recruitment.

The quarterly reports provide a snapshot of the current healthcare environment, but analyzing several reports at once can help identify trends. "If you look at three or four [reports] over a period of time, I think that gives you a good indication of what trends are beginning to occur and what trends are starting to decline," says Shannon Penney, director of recruiting at Delta Physician Placement, in Dallas.

Forecasters see several noticeable trends around the country that can potentially affect the work of the medical staff. For instance, many specialty surgeons are staying put and not transitioning out of their current medical staff placements, says Penney. "With an economic downturn, that stops retirement, [surgeons aren't] as likely to retire, they'll stick it out another year, another year and a half to pad their retirement," Penney says.

Specifically, Delta has seen a decline in the need for cardiac surgeons. "Any form of cardiac surgery has been on the decline with the advances in cardiac medicine," he says. "From the pharmaceutical standpoint, many things are controlled by pharmaceuticals rather than corrected by surgery."

Although the need for surgeons is down, Delta did see an increase in cardiologist specialist in general. Cardiology ranked 10th on a list of the most requested searches initiated by Delta Physician Placement in the fourth quarter of 2008. Compare that with a fourth place ranking for the same quarter in 2009.

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